Eastside Trail in Jeopardy

The Seattle Times reported Saturday that King County Executive Ron Sims and the Port of Seattle no longer agree on the future of BNSF Railway’s Eastside rail line.

The original plan would have The Port purchasing the 42-mile rail line between Renton-to-Snohomish and leasing the southern portion to King County for a hiking and biking trail, in exchange for property on Harbor Island an input on the future of Boeing Field. But with support from citizen’s groups, The Port is now researching the feasibility of running diesel passenger trains on the line, seemingly abandoning the idea of a trail altogether.

The trail would have connected several others serving the area, to create a 125-mile network of recreational trail. Certainly this story is just beginning, and we can expect more information in weeks to come.


If the people will actually use the trains to substitute car trips then I’d rather see trains then a bike trail.

While I agree that the goal here is to get people out of their cars, my concern here is that we have yet another institution back-peddling on their commitment to supporting bike transportation and commuting.

The original deal cited that the rails were too old and require too much money to refurbish in order for passenger lines.  The Port agreed to lease the land back to The County for the trail, and at a later time, The Port would install new rails parallel to the trail for passenger service.

My concern is that with The Port unwilling to lease the land to The County, there isn’t any plan for them to install a trail adjacent to the tracks (whether they end up spending the money to improve them for rail service or not).

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